Friday, August 19

Writing style

A friend recently pointed me to It's a writing blog/resource for writers of Christian science fiction and fantasy. I've spent a merry couple of days reading articles on there. It's great to read articles by people who are actively writing and struggling with how to present the Gospel (or whether to omit it) in fiction.

But one topic made me squawk in outrage. (There's been several, but this one took the cake.) There was Good vs. Mediocre and Another look at Good vs. Mediocre. I was curious to see someone address the commonest problem with Christian fiction, that being its mediocrity.

The first article is basically summed up in this paragraph:

"All this to explain how I got to today’s topic. In the end, I found myself asking, Is one person’s good book another person’s mediocre fare? And if so, is there in reality a standard of art writers should be aiming for and readers should be looking to support?"

And the following comment on said article:

The more and more I find out about the writing world, the more I realize I do not care as much about style and artistry as much as I care about a really good story. I will forgive an author of almost anything if they hook me.

I violently disagree. All stories being equal, compare the writing of someone like Dickens to someone like Stephanie Meyer. Assuming their stories were equally good, and judging only by their writing styles, could anyone say that one is better than the other?

Have you ever tried to subject your brain to the tripe that is The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches by Robert Staneck? Go to Amazon, click the View Inside link, and read the first paragraph. Aloud. And try not to vomit on your keyboard.

I'm sorry, but if a person's storytelling ability is hampered by lousy prose, passive verbs, clunky pacing, and boring characters, I'm not going to be able to see the story. If the story is even worth the anguish.

Ever read Eregon? The whole story is just a long experiment to see how many authors you can identify that he's ripping off (Tolkien, Star Wars, and Pern, mostly).

After scrolling through the Christian fiction section on Speculative Faith's site, I remembered why I don't bother with Christian fantasy. Not only is it derivative, most of it is poorly written. Don't these people ever study how to write invisibly?

If today's readers can't tell the difference between something that is well written and something that is poorly written, then man, they get what they deserve. :-p


Farm Girl said...

Wow, I am glad you had something to get your blood flowing this week.
I looked at it but I am not that much of a fan of that kind of stuff.
You know, what I mean. Good article though.

Rachel Blackmon said...

I entirely agree with you. I can forgive a FEW little errors, but if each page has errors, I find myself dropping the book. Even little errors in good fiction draw a lot of attention to themselves and effectively draw me out of the world of the story and remind me that it's really just words on paper. Good writing shouldn't do that.


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